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Skincare: Eliminating Warts, an Integrated Approach.

by Elena Francesca Barbiero(more info)

listed in skincare, originally published in issue 197 - August 2012

Graced with a fairly effective immune system, I personally had never appreciated the difficulty many face when affected by warts: when I happened to be afflicted by such ailment, a three-time application of an over-the-counter product had been enough to satisfactorily solve the problem - permanently.

The wart grows in the epidermis, which is devoid of independent blood vessels, and doesn’t grow in the dermis: it simply displaces it.

The wart grows in the epidermis, which is devoid of independent blood vessels, and doesn’t grow
in the dermis: it simply displaces it.

My daughter though, seemed to be an altogether different story; a small wart on her left palm had been there for now almost a year - a year in which we had tried, unsuccessfully, almost everything pharmacies have to offer, from creams to freezing kits. It’s true that she has always been prone to skin ailments (she suffered badly from eczema in her early years); this was, though, new territory for me, especially given that she is generally a very healthy child.

Human Papilloma Virus

Why are warts so difficult to get rid of?  The immune system of a person affected by warts may be sluggish or underperforming. However, the human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes warts, is adept at going unrecognized by the human immune system; the body, consequently, doesn’t fight the virus effectively - this accounts for the persistence of the condition. The Anatomy and Physiology manual by Tortora Grabowski defines ‘wart’ as a ‘mass produced by uncontrolled growth of epithelial skin cells; caused by a papilloma virus. Most warts are noncancerous’. The specification ‘noncancerous’ highlights the fact that there are similarities with cancerous growths: “cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled cell proliferation. When cells in a part of the body divide without control, the excess tissue is called a tumour or neoplasm”. Then again, tumours can be malign, or benign, which is what a wart is: “a benign tumour is a noncancerous growth” (the papilloma virus is also responsible for cervical cancer, although it’s an altogether different strain). Recalcitrant warts can be, in very rare cases, malign.

The skin is constituted of two strata: the epidermis, where epithelial cells are located, and the dermis.
The skin is constituted of two strata: the epidermis, where epithelial cells are located, and the dermis.

There are a number of types of warts (about seventy varieties) and they affect various part of the body: hands, feet, face, genitals, skin. Warts also differ in appearance; some may be flat, others have the appearance of pimples; others look like bark. Unfortunately, they are very infectious, so it’s important to address the problem swiftly to avoid spreading and contagion. They affect epithelial skin cells, which means that they affect cells that don’t have an independent supply of oxygen, and that rely on connective tissue to get the nourishment they  need. There might be a number of reasons why someone is prone to warts; one being that perhaps there is a weakness in ‘connectivity’.

It is believed that the insurgence of warts is due to a lack of potassium and zinc; taking mineral supplements may prevent the condition.  Folklore offers many solutions for the removal of warts; some are positively extravagant, but interestingly it is also advised to place on the wart foods that are naturally high in potassium, such as banana peel and potatoes. Other ‘cures’ are  a  slug’s slime on a full moon, bathing the wart with urine and sealing it with duct tape, to ‘suffocate’ it.  Potassium regulates water balance, together with sodium, and also looks after muscle activity and nerve transmission; water balance is strongly connected with ‘toxicity’ in the body, so it does affect the workings of the immune system. Again, this brings us back to ‘connectivity’. Zinc is the remedy of choice to maintain the normal function of the immune system and normal cell division, and is responsible for strong nails, hair and radiant skin. This suggests that, while it’s important to address the condition topically, as warts are an immune system condition, one also has to address the root cause of the immune system’s weakness; ‘combined action’ seems the most effective form of cure.

Topical applications follow two main routes: ‘freezing’ the wart with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy), and the application of salicylic acid.  There is no contraindication in combining the two topical treatments; hard skin will have to be removed before application, as the medication has to ‘hit’ the exposed area to be effective. Cryotherapy on the NHS is usually done every two weeks, but it can be applied once a week in the most stubborn cases. Electrocutery (burning the wart) can also be applied successfully, although it’s invasive and it may cause scarring. Laser therapy seems to be effective and so does surgical removal, although it may leave scarring. Immunotherapy, a fancy word for ‘vaccination’, is becoming more and more common. The body is injected with the virus and learns to cope with the response. This is becoming increasingly popular, but it’s costly.

Stop Warts!

In the complementary health field, aromatherapy oils that are thought to support healing through their antiseptic action are Tea Tree, Frankincense and Oregano: they cannot be applied ‘naked’ to the skin though, with the exception of Tea Tree. Aromatherapy is effective on the cellular level, so there is reason to believe that it may be effective in supporting the body in fighting the papilloma virus. The problem is that if the immune system is weak, there will almost without fail be re-occurrence: so, what can be done to support the immune system, hence to prevent the re-occurring of warts?  Here follow a few pointers in the alternative health camp: I hope they will be useful.

Homeopathy: can be an effective solution. I know there are many who doubt its effectiveness, but I can say I have first-hand experience of a good homeopath; and it has been a life saver for me. I suffered from asthma throughout my childhood, and in desperation my mother took me to a well-known homeopath when I was twelve; the asthma cleared in six months. Interestingly there were a few side effects, namely I developed a bad case of acne, which in time cleared too. For warts, traditional remedies are Thuja, Cal Carb, Causticum, Dulcamara, Nat Carb, Nat Mur, Nit Ac., Sepia, Sulphur; Thuja is always the first port of call, then other remedies seem each to be effective with different kind of warts.  It’s important to consult a reputable practitioner, because there could be other factors at play and other remedies may be needed.

Acupuncture ‘kills’ the wart through inserting needles directly into the black spots that appear on top of the wart: those are blood vessels that supply the wart with oxygen; one can also ‘circle’ the wart with needles, cutting, again, the oxygen supply. A paste is then applied on top of the affected area: a few applications may be necessary.

Hypnotherapy: apparently one can stimulate the immune system through hypnotherapy! Which in a way makes sense, as stress does affect the way the body works, so, if the condition is stress related, it could well be that subconscious reprogramming may work.

I hope the above has shed some light on the subject. Finally I would like to present a rather unconventional view of this illness, which connects to hypnotherapy. Louise Hay’s book Heal your body A-Z describes warts as “little expressions of hate. Belief in ugliness”. The new thought pattern needed to overcome the illness is the affirmation “I am the love and the beauty of Life in full expression”. Hay’s approach identifies the ‘mental’ causes of physical illness and it has been developed empirically through her experiences with healing and her own life experience of beating cancer. It’s a very interesting book and one that is definitely worth a read: it is indeed through that we don’t pay enough attention to our thought patterns.

I don’t know if warts are expression of self-hate, but I do know that illnesses have a strange way of turning into mini-spiritual lessons: it’s the body’s way of bringing attention to ‘imbalance’, it’s our job to listen to the message.

My daughter’s wart seems now to have healed, although it took a long time. I stress the fact that consistency is required: and perhaps that was the lesson we had to learn, who knows.

Bibliography

Tortora Gerard and Grabowski Reynolds Sandra. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. John Wiley & Sons INC. New York. ISBN 0471366927. 2000.

Susan Curtis and Fraser Romy. Natural healing for Women. Thorsons. London. ISBN 0007145918. 2003

Bratman Steve. Complementary and Alternative Health. Collins. London. ISBN 9780007235117.  2011.

Hicks Angela. The Acupuncture Handbook.  Piatkus. London. ISBN 97807449924720. 2005

Stux Berman Pomeranz. Basics of Acupuncture. Springer. New York. ISBN 3540442731. 2003.

Worwood Valerie Ann. The Fragrant Pharmacy. Bantam Books. London. ISBN 9780553403978. 1991

James Ted, Flores Lorraine and Schober Jack. Hypnosis a comprehensive guide. Crown House Publishing Limited. Carmarthen. ISBN 1899836454. 2001.

Hay Louise. Heal your body A-Z. Hay House, Inc. Carlsbad, California. ISBN 1561707929. 2004

Resources

www.cam.nhs.uk CAMLIS, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Library and information service

www.homeopathyhome.com

www.acupuncture.org.uk

www.hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk

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About Elena Francesca Barbiero

Elena Francesca Barbiero BSc (Hons) ITEC is an experienced complementary therapist who specializes in Emotional Freedom Technique in combination with a variety of techniques/therapies, such as Reflexology, Reiki Healing, Metamorphic Technique, Holistic Massage and Aromatherapy to mention a few.

Elena has worked as a therapist since 2002 in established London clinics and is also a contributor to Positive Health PH Online. She is a member of AAMET International (Association for the Advancement of Meridian Energy Techniques). Elena may be contacted via elenafrancescab@gmail.com

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